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Good Afternoon, News: I-5 Expansion Hits New Roadblock, Cops’ Boo-Hoo Exit Interviews, and Transphobic Arkansas Bill Vetoed

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by Wm. Steven Humphrey

Advocacy groups sue and demand environmental impact report before I-5 expansion can continue.

Advocacy groups sue and demand environmental impact report before I-5 expansion can continue. K Marie

Here’s your daily roundup of all the latest local and national news. (Like our coverage? Please consider making a recurring contribution to the Mercury to keep it comin’!)

IN LOCAL NEWS:

• Starting today all frontline workers, their families, and anyone over 16 with underlying health problems are eligible for their first dose of the COVID vaccine! (Yippeeee!) In less happy news, that is a LOT of people, and many were met today with a scheduling website that was repeatedly freezing up and not allowing them to book appointments. (Yippeeeeeek.)

• The Oregonian was extra sympathetic to the Portland Police today, publishing the boo-hoo exit interviews of some of the cops who left the department after the “radical leftists and anarchists” of Portland demanded they actually be held accountable for their actions. That story was on the heels of a fear-based opinion piece from the O‘s consistently problematic editorial board on why the PPB’s Gun Violence Reduction Team—which was defunded because of racial bias and transparency issues—should be revived. (It’s like the police union has their own personal newspaper!)

• Speaking of cry-baby police unions, the Oregon Legislature is getting closer to putting a new law on the books that would eliminate the requirement that cities must bargain with cop unions if citizens vote to approve oversight boards that hold bad cops accountable. Obviously our local police union hates this very much.

• Three advocacy groups are suing to hit the brakes on the planned widening of I-5 in the Rose Quarter until the Oregon Department of Transportation conducts an environmental impact study—something the complaint claims ODOT failed to do in the years-long planning phase of freeway widening. Our Blair Stenvick has more and puts it all into context!

• If you are interested in a) frosty alcoholic slushies and b) creative hot dog “sandwiches,” then you don’t want to miss Janey Wong’s latest edition of “Cocktail To-Go Club!”

IN NATIONAL NEWS:

• In the Derek Chauvin murder trial, the Minneapolis police chief testified today that Chauvin “absolutely” violated bureau policy when he knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine-and-a-half minutes, ultimately suffocating him. Meanwhile a doctor who tried to resuscitate Floyd that night told the jury that Chauvin’s actions led directly to Floyd’s asphyxiation and death.

• Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas did a very un-Republican thing and vetoed an absolutely terrible GOP bill that would have denied gender-affirming healthcare to transgender youth—but don’t celebrate yet! Arkansas already has a ban on trans student athletes, and a simple majority could overturn the governor’s veto.

• Today in “Republicans are not the sharpest tools in the shed”: “Half of Republicans believe false accounts of deadly U.S. Capitol riot.”

• Gross Trump troll Rep. Matt Gaetz is absolutely refusing to resign from Congress over charges that he engaged in the sex trafficking of a minor—which is okay by me, because I love seeing people being tried, convicted, and dragged out of Washington by their ankles.

• Oregon’s own Sen. Ron Wyden has a plan he’s introducing to fund Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal: taxing multinational corporations which could potentially raise hundreds of billions of bucks.

• Vigils are being held for rapper DMX who is currently hospitalized and in critical condition after suffering a massive heart attack.

• Live comedy is BACK, and the Rose City Rollers and the Mercury are presenting a live OUTDOOR comedy event with an awesome lineup of hilarious local and nationally recognized comedians! It’s coming at ya April 22, 23, and 24, so get your tickets pronto!

• HELLO, STONERS! You will be pleased to know that SPLIFF—the short flick film festival about cannabis and all things “stoned”—is kicking off April 16-24 and you can get your tickets NOW. (So hurry up before you forget… because you know you will.)

• And now… THE WEATHER REPORT: A mostly sunny day tomorrow with a high of 69!

• And finally, WAIT! Getting vaccinated gives you the ability to do this?!? Now that’s what I call a great side effect!

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